After coming under fire for comments she made at a rally over the weekend, Maxine Waters' response to Trump's tweet at her is all about reminding people who she believes is the one actually inciting violence. The back and forth between Waters and Trump went like this: Waters told supporters at a rally to "push back" on Trump administration officials anywhere in public, and to let them know that they aren't welcome, and in response Trump tweeted about Waters', insulting her intelligence and suggesting she be careful what she wishes for. Now, in an interview with MSNBC, Waters set the record straight on where she thinks people have misinterpreted her message.
Though Waters' speech did call for crowds to "push back" on Trump officials in public, she didn't reference any encouragement for physical harassment or harm in her speech. More specifically, she said, "If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere!"
In a tweeted response to Waters' speech, Trump described Waters as the joint face of the Democratic Party along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has also been a subject of his disdain in the past. Trump continued in the tweet, "[Waters] has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!"
In an interview on MSNBC (as seen below), Waters was quick to clarify what she believed was a miscommunication of her original intent. "I did not call for harm for anybody; the president lied again. I believe in peaceful protest. I believe that protest is at the centerpiece of our democracy. I believe that the Constitution guarantees us freedom of speech, and I think that protest is civil. ... As a matter of fact, the president calls for more violence than anybody else."
Waters is correct that Trump has directly called for violence in the past on numerous occasions as a response to dealing with protesters or individuals with different political beliefs. According to a fact check run by Snopes, Trump said of a protester to his Las Vegas rally in 2016, "I'd like to punch him in the face."
In a rally in St. Louis later that year, Trump cited what he believed to be a problem that people aren't allowed to hurt one another anymore. In fact, Trump even told protesters in a Michigan rally that if they did hurt a protester, he would defend them in court, and not to worry about it.
But Waters' initial speech didn't focus just on giving Trump officials a hard time. She focused more specifically on what she believed to be the importance of standing up for children unable to defend themselves in relation to the family separation policy. Of the battle over immigration policy, Waters said,
We're going to win this battle, because while you try and quote the Bible, Jeff Sessions and others, you really don’t know the Bible. God is on our side. On the side of the children. On the side of what’s right. On the side of what’s honorable. On the side of understanding that if we can’t protect the children, we can’t protect anybody.
She then went on to say that there should be "no peace, no sleep" for Trump officials who have been complicit in the family separation policy, and (in what seemed to be a reference to the recent decision by a Red Hen restaurant owner to tell Sarah Huckabee Sanders that she was not welcome there), Waters encouraged those present to tell those officials that "they aren't welcome anymore."
And as for receiving criticism from her own party, Waters actually defended the comments made by Pelosi and House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, both of whom denounced the idea of using harassment as a means of political change. "They [didn't say] I'm out of line... they [were talking] about civility," Waters explained during her MSNBC interview.
"I think that [Pelosi] was very responsible in the way she said that," she added. "They're not attacking me. They're trying to make sure that people understand that we're focused on the children and that we're not focused on this diversion, particularly the way the president would have it sound, and make it out to be."
The incident with Sanders at the Red Hen restaurant has not been the only situation in which individuals have asked Trump officials to leave a public setting. Recently, Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen was forced to leave a Mexican restaurant in D.C. after people entered the restaurant and started to protest her role in the family separation policy.